Executed Arizona inmate 'gasping' for more than hour

Attorneys file for stay of execution as inmate gasps after lethal injection administered; takes Joseph Wood two hours to die.

Danielle Haynes

FLORENCE, Ariz., July 23 (UPI) -- Arizona inmate Joseph Wood was executed Wednesday, but not before his attorneys filed an emergency stay because he was "gasping and snorting for more than an hour" after the drugs were administered.

The execution began at 4:52 p.m. ET at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, and it took nearly two hours for Wood to die after a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone was administered.


"The Arizona Department of Corrections began the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III at 1:52 p.m. (4:52 p.m. ET). At 1:57 p.m ADC reported that Mr. Wood was sedated, but at 2:02 he began to breathe. At 2:03 his mouth moved. Mr. Wood has continued to breathe since that time. He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour," a motion filed by Wood's attorneys said, before Wood died from the injection.

"He is still alive. This execution has violated Mr. Wood's Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment. We respectfully request that this Court stop the execution and require that the Department of Corrections use the lifesaving provisions required in its protocol," the motion continued.

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It was only the second time the drug combination had been used; the first time, in Ohio, it took 25 minutes for the inmate to die.

"The experiment using midazolam combined with hydromorphone to carry out an execution failed today in Arizona," Dale Baich, Wood's attorney said in a statement.

"Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror -- a bungled execution," he added. "The public should hold its officials responsible and demand to make this process more transparent."

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On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution sought by Wood's attorneys, who said their client had a right to know information about the manufacturer of the drugs used in his execution.

Wood was given the death penalty for the 1989 seats of his estranged girlfriend and her father.

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